28 September - 17 November 2018
Wilhelmina Barns-Graham: The Late Prints

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham was a pioneer of post-war British abstraction. Born in St Andrew’s, she studied at the Edinburgh College of Art before taking refuge at St Ives, Cornwall in 1940. There she met Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo, and her work became permanently associated with the School of St Ives where she maintained a studio until her death.

In her last decade, while in her eighties, Barns-Graham produced an astonishing number of prints.  For her, making prints was a liberating experience, one in which she could play with screens to create complete series of images. New ideas sprang constantly from these variations. She came to move so swiftly, outpacing the printers with whom she collaborated, that several 2003 editions were unsigned at the time of her death while other images remained unprinted. These latter prints, all strictly mapped by the artist, came to be editioned posthumously to enable the completion of the publication ‘The Prints of Wilhelmina Barns-Graham : A Complete Catalogue’ (Lund Humphries, 2007) by Dr Ann Gunn.

Although Barns-Graham had made the occasional etching and linocut, it was screenprints made with Kip Gresham (Curwen Studio) in 1991 that can be seen as the true start of her life as a printmaker. In 1998, a significant turning point came with her introduction to Carol Robertson and Robert Adam of Graal Press. On technique, Graal were able to offer her a more expansive range of possibilities due to their ground-breaking development of water based screenprinting inks. With Barns-Graham’s individual brush marks captured on acetate, they made prints that are truly an embodiment of the artist’s painting style. The first series made with Graal was ‘Time’. This was so successful that she went on to collaborate with them on the editioning of major sets of images - Millennium, Sunghrie, Earth - concluding with the White Circle, Wind Dance and Water Dance (Porthmeor) series of 2002/3.

This will be the first major exhibition of Barns-Graham’s printmaking in the North-East, presented in collaboration with the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust. The show will include examples of etching and lithography made in the 1990s, alongside the exuberant late screenprints in which the artist, in her own words, really ‘let rip’.

Millenium Blue II, 2000, Screenprint, 24 x 30.6cm; Untitled (Yellow Ground, White Spiral), 2006, Screenprint, 28.5 x 24cm
© Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust
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